At long last, AirAsia has finally launched its e-hailing service, which it is calling AirAsia Ride, in Malaysia. The company’s new offering, formed from the purchase of ride-sharing provider Dacsee, will compete against Grab and other e-hailing services in the country, and can be accessed via the company’s Super App that also provides food delivery, shopping as well as hotel and flight booking services.

For now, AirAsia Ride is only available in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, but the service will be rolled out to other states such as Penang, Kelantan, Melaka, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak by the end of 2021. According to Amanda Woo, CEO of AirAsia Super App, there are also plans to offer AirAsia Ride in other ASEAN countries like Thailand and Indonesia in the future.

While AirAsia Ride operates in a similar fashion to other e-hailing services, the company says there are notable differences to provide customers with greater convenience. For instance, you’ll be able to choose your preferred driver from a list rather than having the platform assign one to you, with relevant details like the driver’s distance from you and personal profile displayed.

How to book an AirAsia Ride trip; click to enlarge

There’s even an Allstar Ride available, where the drivers are AirAsia pilots and cabin crew, depending on availability. This freedom of choice stacks on top of the familiar ability to select your preferred vehicle type (compact, premium, six-seater, premium MPV, taxi or just taking whatever’s available).

In terms of pricing, AirAsia Ride’s fares are set at an average of RM1 per km, excluding toll charges. You will be able to book on-demand rides or pre-book rides in advances, although the latter requires a minimum amount of RM20, Soyacincau reported.

Like with Grab, you’ll also be able to add a tip when placing a booking to provide drivers with an extra incentive to accept the job. Payments can be made with cash or using credit and debit cards, and the company plans to allow passengers to pay for rides using their Big points in the future.

While passengers do have plenty of benefits, AirAsia Ride also implements a “driver-forward” concept that it says will enable its driver-partners to improve their overall income and enjoy a better quality of life. On the former, AirAsia ride imposes a 15% platform fee on its drivers, which is lower than the average 20% in the market, allowing drivers to take home 85% of their fares.

Meanwhile, AirAsia Ride uses data analytics to optimise its drivers’ time to improve efficiency and their earnings. As an example, drivers can be assigned a return airport trip with the shortest wait interval based on the estimated time of arrival of a passenger’s flight.

The company adds that it will not penalise its driver for rejecting assigned trips, which is different from the norm. Instead, it uses an encouragement model that provides drivers with more rewards and benefits for completing more jobs.

At the moment, there are about 1,500 registered driver-partners, but the company expects 5,000 more to come onboard in the next six months with its nationwide expansion. All drivers have the required physical vocational licence (PSV), fully vaccinated, and regularly tested, the company adds.

“There is also the potential for AirAsia Ride to integrate with Teleport, our logistics arm to complement the logistics and delivery services, tapping into the same pool of drivers for maximum efficiency and cost savings, apart from synergising with our e-commerce verticals, supplementing our existing last-mile delivery capabilities with greater capacity and reach,” said Amanda Woo, CEO of AirAsia Super App.

Another exciting product innovation in the pipeline is partnership with electric vehicles, to spearhead the drive for sustainability in mobility for ASEAN,” added Amanda. The company had previously announced plans to launch a flying taxi service, with a pilot project already active in Cyberjaya. Just a few days ago, AirAsia also announced the acquisition of DeliverEat to strengthen its foothold in the food delivery space.